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Graduate Student Spotlight: Jalen Blue

Ph.D. student, Organizational Communication

Prior to beginning my PhD at the University of Tennessee, I earned my Master of Public Policy degree at Vanderbilt University. From there, I then went on to work in leadership communications for the University. While working in communications, my interest in studying communication and organizational behavior grew and eventually led me to beginning my PhD in 2020 in the School of Communications Studies in the College of Communication and Information. During this time, I had the opportunity to participate in the CIRTL F.U.E.L Seminar program for graduate students, and it was a transformative experience. 

There were many insights that I gained into teaching and learning through this course, but the one key takeaway that has stuck with me since is how the program helped me to think critically. Not just about my teaching philosophy, but also my own identities, beliefs and values as a teacher. CIRTL F.U.E.L also equipped me with reliable, evidence-based practices that assisted me in creating a higher level of engagement with the students in my course.  Every once in a while, I will have students who will come up to me after class and share how the content we are covering connects to their experiences, or how the activity we did in class or discussion helped them apply the content in very relevant and practical ways to their own lives. These moments are especially gratifying for me as an instructor. 

Additionally, CIRTL F.U.E.L has made me increasingly mindful about implementing pedagogical practices that help to foster a welcoming and inclusive learning environment for my students. The content we covered during the seminar helped me to be even more intentional about understanding my student’s diverse array of learning styles and creating a classroom that will connect with each of them.

Bringing my knowledge from CIRTL into my classrooms and watching the results unfold in real time leads me to believe that the skills and strategies I developed through participating in the seminar provided me with a firm foundation as I continue in my career. I think all graduate students should take advantage of this opportunity. It is more than worth it!

For more information on TLI’s programming specific to graduate students, please visit our Workshops & Events menu and Developing Future Faculty web page.

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